This one requires a little backstory. Cinema in Iran has a rich history, and, despite heavy government censorship, the country has produced an incredible output of beautiful films, and even experienced its own “New Wave” in the 1990s. Filmmaker Jafar Panahi got his start during that time, making excellent films like The White Balloon (1995), The Mirror (1997), The Circle (2000), Crimson Gold (2003), and Offside (2006). Then he was arrested for creating anti-government propaganda, served some jail time (a petition of international filmmakers helped get him released), and was slapped with a 20-year ban on making films. This has not stopped him from making a series of secret films, with small video cameras and small crews.
In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015), he poses as a cab driver, driving around the streets of Tehran, filming from what appears to be a single dashboard-mounted camera. His passengers run the gamut, from a bootleg movie seller to his own niece. Throughout, Panahi draws parallels between crime (or fear) and movies, which, in his case makes sense since making movies is a crime. But Panahi seems in a more hopeful mood here, not angry or upset, perhaps having found a new kind of freedom. In any case, this movie is a true act of cinematic rebellion. Out of necessity, there are no credits on the film, which is presented in Persian with English subtitles.